Monday, September 30, 2013

Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa to End Terror?

"Finally, the battlefield commander fights to win the battle. But it's the political will that determines success or failure in war. If the battlefield commander is let down by lack of political will or consensus, victory is impossible to achieve."  Sri Lankan Strategist Gotabaya Rajapaksa 

Sri Lankan military defeated the terrorists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) in 2009 after a war that lasted 26 years.

This period from 1983 to 2009 included a long series of talks and peace deals, all violated by the LTTE. After many years of on and off half-hearted attempts to quell LTTE insurgency, it took the determined leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to declare an all-out war against LTTE with Pakistan's help to defeat the terrorist group in just three years. President Rajapksa made it his top priority. He built broad public support for his military campaign and followed through with ruthless execution of his plan.

Initially trained and supported by Raw, the Indian intelligence agency, in the 1980s, the Tamil Tigers met their bloody end at the hands of Lankan military using arms manufactured and supplied by Pakistan.

Alarmed by reports of Pakistani arms supplies to Sri Lanka in 2008, India said it wanted Sri Lanka to treat Tamils with dignity and also voiced concern that Colombo’s arms purchases may upset New Delhi’s “pre-eminent position” in South Asia. “We are facing a situation where the ceasefire (in Sri Lanka) could collapse. This could lead to a flashpoint,” National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said while delivering the 25th Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal memorial lecture.

India refused to supply what it considered "offensive weapons" to Sri Lanka and opposed any military solution of the "ethnic conflict" while urging Colombo to devolve autonomy to the minorities.

According the News quoting reliable sources in Pakistan, military cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan has grown significantly in recent years as Islamabad, unlike New Delhi, has had no problems supplying Sri Lanka's army state-of-the-art weaponry to accelerate its counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE which finally ended with the killing of the most wanted Tamil guerrilla fighter Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The sources said it was in the first week of May 2008 that Sri Lankan Army Chief General Fonseka came to Pakistan with his shopping list of high tech arms for the Lankan armed forces, who were engaged in an intense battle with the Tamil Tiger rebels at the time.

After Fonseca's visit, Pakistan sold 22 Al-Khalid tanks to Sri Lanka in a deal worth over US$100 million. Sri Lanka also purchased Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System (MBRLS), cluster bombs, deep penetration bombs and rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Pakistan, according to various reports. In fact, Sri Lanka, along with some Middle Eastern nations, has now become one of the largest buyers of Pakistani arms in the last few years.

On Jan 19, 2009, in a meeting between Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali and his visiting Lankan counterpart Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the brother of Sri Lankan president, in Rawalpindi, an agreement was reached to enhance cooperation in military training, exercises and intelligence sharing regarding terrorism. The agreement came amid Sri Lankan media reports that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilots had participated in several successful air strikes against LTTE military bases in August 2008. These reports further claimed that a highly trained group of the Pakistani armed forces officers is posted in Colombo to guide the Sri Lankan security forces in their counter-insurgency operations against the Tamil Tigers.

LTTE was initially funded, trained and equipped by RAW, the Indian intelligence agency. Tamil-speaking LTTE terrorists used the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as safe haven. Palk strait separating Sri Lanka from India is just 33 miles wide. It is easier to cross than the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

 LTTE's vicious campaign of terror claimed over 100,000 lives in a country with a population of just 20 million, about the same as Karachi's population. It included aerial attacks, and use of gun boats and suicide bombings.

LTTE started using suicide bombings as a terror tactic well before Al Qaeda did. LTTE victims included Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India who was killed by a female LTTE suicide bomber. Another victim was former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga who lost an eye when her election rally was attacked by LTTE. The deaths include at least 27,639 LTTE fighters, 23,790 Sri Lankan soldiers and policemen, 1,155 Indian soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilians.

Some argue that the Pakistani Taliban are a much more difficult foe to defeat. Others argue that FATA can not be "conquered". They cite history of the Russians and the British to support their claim.  I see these as seriously flawed analogies.

The reality is that nobody is talking about "conquering" FATA. To the contrary, the people of FATA need to be rescued from a band of thugs and criminals who are terrorizing the ordinary people of FATA and using North Waziristan as their base of operations. The Taliban recruit and train bombers and send them out into various town of cities of Pakistan to kill innocent people. Pakistani military is not a foreign military attempting to occupy FATA. In fact, there are significant numbers of people from federally administered tribal areas who are part of Pakistani security forces.

It's also a fact that the LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka were just as vicious and determined as the TTP terrorists  in Pakistan today. LTTE made and violated multiple peace deals over a long period. Sri Lankan leaders were as patient (clueless?) as Pakistani leaders are today. It all changed with the arrival of Rajapaksa who decided enough was enough. He disregarded the usual rights groups and other do-gooders to do what had to be done to rid his country of the scourge of terrorism by taking decisive action starting in 2006.

With daily carnage in the streets of Pakistan, the nation is suffering from extremely low economic growth rates of just 2-3% a year. Over 40,000 people have become victims of the Taliban terror. Foreign and domestic investments have dried up. There are widespread blackouts and energy shortages. Few new jobs are being created. Foreign investors, tourists, sports teams and business executives are shying away from the country.

Pakistan can not afford the continuation of the status quo. There will be more casualties in the short term if Pakistan decides to declare all-out war on the Taliban terrorists. Allowing the problem to fester will only make matters worse and lead to far more damage in the long run. It must act quickly and decisively to end the ongoing reign of terror by the Pakistani Taliban and their various affiliates who share their hateful ideology and collaborate to achieve their reprehensible aims.

Does Pakistan have a  Mahinda Rajapaksa? Alternatively, can Pakistani leaders learn from Rajapaksa's experience? Can Sharif Brothers in Pakistan do what Rajapaksa Brothers did in Sri Lanka?

Here's a recent video discussion of continuing terror attacks in Pakistan:

Attack on Peshawar church; Baluchistan earthquake; Should Taliban be allowed to open offices from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Sri Lanka Defeated LTTE With Pakistan's Help

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan is the Richest South Asian in America

With a net worth of $3.8 billion, Shahid Khan tops the Forbes list of the richest Americans of South Asian origin. Overall, Khan ranks 122nd on Forbes 400 list for 2013, up from 179th in 2012.

L to R: Tony, Ann, Shahid  and Shanna Khan

Born in Pakistani city of Lahore, 63 year old Shahid Khan is a mechanical engineer and a self-made billionaire who built his fortune as a top supplier of bumpers to the auto industry. Khan made history in 2011 by becoming the first non-white owner of a National Football League team when he bought Jacksonville Jaguars. Recently, he acquired an English soccer team Fullham for $300 million.

There are four Indian-Americans on Forbes 400 this year: Syntel chairman and co-founder Bharat Desai and his family, Symphony Technology Group founder and chairman Romesh T. Wadhwani, Google investor Kavitrak Ram Shriram and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, according to India West newspaper.

 Desai, 60, who lives in Fisher Island, Fla., is in 252nd place with a $2.2 billion net worth. He was in 239th place in 2012.

Wadhwani, 66, has a net worth of $2.1 billion, good for 260th place on the Forbes list. The resident of Palo Alto, Calif., was listed 250th last year.

Shriram, 56, a resident of Menlo Park, Calif., and a managing partner of Sherpalo Ventures, is in 325th place with assets of $1.75 billion. He dropped from the 298th spot in 2012.

Khosla, whose Khosla Ventures continues to invest in green energy and other forward-looking technologies, is in 352nd place with a worth of $1.5 billion. The 58-year-old Sun Microsystems co-founder was 328th last year. He lives in Portola Valley, Calif.

Here are some of the highlights of Pakistani-American data from US Census 2010 as gleaned from a report titled "A Community of Contrasts Asian Americans in the United States: 2011" published by Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice:

1. There are 409,163 Pakistani-Americans in 2010, the 7th largest Asian-American community in America.

2. Pakistani-American population doubled from 2000 (204,309) to 2010 (409,163), the second largest percentage increase after Bangladeshis' 157% increase in the same period.

3. 6% of Pakistani-American population is mixed race.

4. 65% of Pakistanis in America are foreign-born. 57% of foreign-born Pakistani-American population is made up of naturalized citizens.

5. There are 120,000 Pakistani legal permanent residents of which 42% are eligible to naturalize.

6. There were 69,202 immigrant visas issued to Pakistanis from 2001 to 2010, the 5th highest among Asian nations.

7. 28% of Pakistanis have limited English proficiency.

8. Average per capita income of Pakistani-Americans is $24,663.00

9. 15% of Pakistanis are classified as poor; only 1% of them are on public assistance.

10. 8% of Pakistanis are unemployed, a figure lower than the general population of Americans.

11. 55% of Pakistanis own their own homes.

12. 55% of Pakistanis have a bachelor's degree or higher.

13. Median age of Pakistanis in America is only 29 years, lower than most of the Asian groups and the national median age of 36.8 years.

Pakistani-American community is the second fastest growing community in the United States, according to 2010 US Census. It is also a very young community with the median age of just 29 years, compared to 32 years for Indian-Americans and 37 years for all Asian-Americans. 34% of Pakistani-Americans are under the age of 17 compared with 26% of Indian-Americans and 24% of  all Asian-Americans.

More of the Pakistanis in America are college educated than the general population of whites and various immigrant groups. The youthful energy and higher education levels of Pakistani-Americans are opening doors for them to rise and shine in America, in spite of the current economic difficulties in their adopted land of opportunities.

Here's a CBS 60 Minutes segment on Shahid Khan:

 Here's a Forbes interview video of Shahid Khan on his path to success:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-American NFL Team Owner

Silicon Valley Pakistani-American Wins Big in IPO

Pakistani-American in $500 Million Deal to Buy St. Louis Rams

Shahid Khan's $112 million Luxury Yacht 

Edible Arrangements- A Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision

OPEN Forum 2010

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Huma Abedin Calm Amid Twittergate

Silicon Valley Summit of Pakistani Entrepreneurs

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Pakistan's Middle Class Growth in 1999-2009

Social Entrepreneurs Target India, Pakistan

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did Pakistan Quake Release Methane Hydrate Gas to Form Island?

Pakistan is known to have significant natural gas deposits trapped in the form of methane hydrates in sedimentary rocks off the coast of Baluchistan. Tragic as yesterday's earthquake is in terms of loss of human life, it may also have triggered the release of substantial amount of gas which pushed up a new island in the Arabian sea. A team of scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography in Karachi will visit the site this week to investigate it.

In a study published online in the journal Nature Geoscience and reported recently by New York Times, European researchers said that an underwater quake off Pakistan nearly 70 years ago likely fractured seafloor sediments and created pathways for the release of methane gas which still continues to bubble up from below. The researchers say the phenomenon may be widespread enough that climate scientists should take it into account when estimating the amounts of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Dr. David Fischer, the lead author of the study, told New York Times: “The quake broke open gas-hydrate sediments and the free gas underneath migrated to the surface.” The hydrates themselves did not dissolve. “They remain there,” he said.

While the existence of offshore methane hydrate deposits has long been known in many parts of the world, it's only recently that Japan demonstrated that natural gas can be produced commercially from such deposits.

Methane hydrate is also known by other names such as methane clathrate, hydromethane or methane ice. This last name relates to the fact that it is an ice-like crystalline substance, basically, frozen methane. Methane hydrate is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be found in soft sediments in Arctic environments. It can be extensively found in the uppermost few hundred meters of slope and rise sediments in continental margins where the right temperature and pressure conditions are present.

Methane hydrates have been discovered on the Atlantic and Pacific margins of both North and South America, especially at equatorial latitudes. They are also found off the coast of Canada, Alaska, off the West coast of Norway, the Black Sea and off the coast of Pakistan. Smaller fields have been discovered off the coast of New Zealand and Antarctica, according to Oceaflores.

One cubic meter of hydrate contains 164 cubic meters of gas, once the gas is released, it expands to more than 150 times the original volume. As a consequence, methane hydrate reserves are thought to contain more than twice as much fuel energy as all currently known fossil fuel reserves.

Methane hydrate is not yet ready for prime time as a substantial source of energy. However, it could become commercially viable in the future for Pakistan if the Japanese succeed in their efforts.  It could be another significant energy revolution similar to the shale revolution now unfolding in America. Pakistan is blessed with both-shale and methane hydrate-in huge quantities enough to fuel the national economy for a long time.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Methane Hydrates in Pakistan

Affordable Fuel for Pakistan's Electricity 

Pakistan Needs Shale Gas Revolution

US Census Bureau's International Stats  

Pakistan's Vast Shale Gas Reserves

US AID Overview of Pakistan's Power Sector 

US Can Help Pakistan Overcome Energy Crisis

Abundant and Cheap Coal Electricity

US Dept of Energy Report on Shale Gas

Pakistan's Twin Energy Crises

Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

Pakistan's Gas Pipeline and Distribution Network

Pakistan's Energy Statistics

US Department of Energy Data

Electrification Rates By Country 

CO2 Emissions, Birth, Death Rates By Country

China Signs Power Plant Deals in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Projects

Pakistan Energy Industry Overview

Energy from Thorium

Comparing US and Pakistani Tax Evasion

Pakistan's Oil and Gas Report 2010

Circular Electricity Debt Problem

International CNG Vehicles Association

Rare Earths at Reko Diq?

Lessons From IPP Experience in Pakistan

Correlation Between Human Development and Energy Consumption

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fireeye's Pakistani-American Founder Ashar Aziz Wins Big on IPO

NASDAQ IPO of Silicon Valley's cyber security firm Fire-eye has made its Pakistani-American founder Ashar Aziz worth $430 million at the market close on Friday, according an estimate by Forbes magazine.

The high-tech company priced its initial public offering of 15.2 million shares at $20 per share late Thursday, raising about $304 million after increasing its expected price range to $15 to $17 per share. Shares of FEYE were trading up by more than 100% during the day before closing up $16 or 80% to $36.00 on the Nasdaq Friday. FEYE closed up another 4% to $37.45 on Monday.

Aziz owns about 10.91 million shares in the Milipitas, Calif.-based security company; that 9.3% stake after the offering alone is now worth more than $392 million.

Fireeye Founder and CTO Ashar Aziz
FireEye, founded in 2004, has a virtualization engine which protects its customers' infrastructure from attacks that may come through the web and email. Its dynamic virtual cloud analyzes incoming data, providing real-time intelligence to its users.

FireEye is riding high on a wave of growing cyber security concerns amid increasing cyber attacks being reported almost daily from around the globe. FireEye's founder Ashar Aziz is among the top recognized experts in the field of Internet and computer security. With the $50 million round from top investors in January 2013, the company raised $100 million in venture money before going public. The venture funding came from investors including Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs, Juniper Networks, Silicon Valley Bank, and others.  Several other security companies including Illumio, CipherCloud, Mocana  have recently significant sums of money from venture capital firms.

Here's a video of Ashar talking about  the effectiveness of his technology in blocking new and  previously unidentified attacks by not relying on signatures:

Interview with Ashar Aziz, CEO of FireEye from Richard Stiennon on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

US Firms Adding Jobs Overseas 

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistanis Study Abroad

Pakistan's Youth Bulge

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Pakistani-American NFL Team Owner

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs Catch the Wave

Pakistani Graduation Rate Higher Than India's

Friday, September 20, 2013

Foreign Investment Up, Load-shedding Down in PM Nawaz Sharif's First 100 Days

FDI is up and load-shedding is down during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government's first 100 days. However, there has been little progress on resolving fundamental issues such as lack of security, growing budget deficits, high current account deficits and continuing heavy subsidies to the power sector and various public sector enterprises like Pakistan Steel Mills, PIA, Railways, etc.

Foreign Inflows Jump: 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's first 100 days in office have seen a significant increase in foreign capital inflows.

Pakistan has $105.4 million foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first two month of the current fiscal year 2013/14 compared to $52.4 million received during the same month of the previous year, according to a Reuters' report. This is a continuation of the trend from the PPP government's last year in office which saw 76% year-over-year jump to reach nearly $1.5 billion foreign investment in fiscal year 2012-13.

Foreign remittances from Pakistani diaspora also saw a 7% increase to reach $2.64 billion in July-Aug 2013. IN addition, Pakistan reached a deal with IMF for $6.6 billion loan and the first tranche of $500 million was disbursed last week.

Load Shedding Decreases:

Circular debt payment of $5 billion by the government has induced power companies to buy more fuel and better utilize installed generating capacity in the last two months. As a result, the people are experiencing fewer hours of load shedding across the country.

The fundamental issue of the gap between cost of generating electricity and the electricity revenue receipts still remains. However, the Nawaz Sharif government is pushing higher electricity rates and lower fuel cost options to reduce this gap. Meanwhile, the circular debt has piled up again to nearly $1 billion in just the last two months. If this debt continues to mount and the government fails to clear it, the load shedding is likely to significantly increase soon.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government is trying to start talks with the Taliban militants in an effort to reduce the mounting death toll in terrorist attacks. An all-parties conference in Islamabad has endorsed peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. The TTP leadership has welcomed the talks offer but it has continued to kill soldiers, policemen and civilians to dictate terms to Pakistan government. This was brought in sharp focus when the Taliban killed a top general in Upper Dir recently. The Taliban appear to be exploiting the perceived weakness being communicated by the government in response to continuing attacks.

Recent data from South Asia Terrorism Portal indicates a decline in overall death rate from terrorism but it also shows that more security personnel are continuing to lose their lives in such attacks.

Structural Problems Remain:

Pakistan imports a lot more than it exports. Exports add up to about $25 billion while imports stand at about $45 billion. Similarly, Pakistani government spends a lot more than it takes in as revenue, leaving a budget gap of 6-7% of GDP. It is forced beg and borrow billions of dollars a year to fill this gap. Fundamental structural issues remain in terms of high current account deficits, widening gap between public revenue and spending, and large subsidies to public sector units including the power sector sapping public treasury. FBR is missing revenue target of Rs 2.5 trillion by Rs. 130 billion, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessment. Debt is accumulating again in the power sector. Economic growth is barely keeping up with population growth.  Creation of new jobs lags growth of new entrants into the work force. National savings rate is only about 10% of GDP which reduces domestic investments needed for the future.


Reviving economic growth is the biggest challenge facing the Sharif administration. It's going to be difficult to revive the economy without structural reforms to increase domestic and attract foreign investments, which in turn requires solving the basic issues of terrorism, energy shortages and  tax collection.

Here's a  video discussion on the subject and other topics:

First 100 Days of Nawaz Sharif Government; Taliban’s Islam is false Islam; Sumbul case; Sheema Kermani from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan to Beg and Borrow Billions More in 2013-14

Power Companies Profits Soar at Taxpayer's Expense

Does Nawaz Sharif Have a Counter-terrorism Strategy?

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Aid Dependence

Pakistan's Vast Shale Oil and Gas Reserves

Pak IPPs Make Record Profits Amid Worst Ever Load Shedding 

Global Power Shift Since Industrial Revolution

Massive Growth in Electrical Connections in Pakistan

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's Budget 2013-14 Speech

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pakistani Taliban Talks, Karachi Operation and Syrian Chem Weapons

There are more questions than answers after the All Parties Conference (APC) in Pakistan resolved to begin talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Karachi operation has run into resistance from MQM, the city's biggest political party. The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to account for, remove and destroy Syria's entire stockpile of chemical weapons.

All Parties Conference on Taliban Talks:

All Parties Conference (APC) held in Islamabad passed a resolution to begin talks with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) without pre-conditions. There is no requirement for the TTP to stop killing innocent Pakistanis as a condition of talks. Soon after, the TTP welcomed the offer and then proceeded to kill a top general along with two other soldiers in Upper Dir district of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Is this the beginning of yet another surrender similar to the one that occurred after the 2009 APC on Swat when the federal and provincial governments ceded power to the TTP in Swat? Will this attempt also fail just like the 2009  ANP-led peace deal with the Taliban?

Karachi Operation:

Another APC led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to launch an operation in Karachi to stop rising rates of murder, kidnappings, extortion and other crimes in which criminals belonging to the political parties are involved. It started out well but soon turned into a mass protest by the MQM when one of its leaders was arrested on murder charges.

History shows that the MQM, the city's most powerful political party, will continue to be a problem until it is made part of the solution. Karachi has seen relative peace only when MQM has been allowed to run Karachi's local government as it did in Musharraf years. From 2000-2008, average annual murder rate declined to about 100 or less , a remarkably low figure for a megacity of at least 15 million residents.

Syrian Chemical Weapons:

The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to account for, remove and destroy Syria's entire stockpile of chemical weapons. Syrian President Basahar Al-Assad has accepted it and also offered to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. This deal has stopped the planned US strikes against the Assad regime at least for the moment. But for how long? Is it realistic that Assad and Russia would be able to live up to the deal to Obama's satisfaction? Will Obama act against Syria? Is Assad on his last legs? Would US then have to deal with the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in Syria?

For those who doubt American resolve, it is important to remember the following: In spite of its great technological advances, the US still retains many vestiges of its Wild West. With its powerful gun-rights advocates in many western, mid-western and southern states, the US is still a gun-slinging frontier society in many ways which makes it jealously guard its exceptional status in the world. The US seeks to avoid the fate of other great empires of the past which were brought down by barbarians and desert tribesmen over the centuries.

US intelligence analyst and author George Friedman in his book "The Next 100 Years" describes the United States as "young and barbaric" with the barbarian instincts to fight off most threats, including those from the rag-tag bands of  tribesmen and barbarians who have toppled great empires of the past like the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Persian empires, the Umayyid empire, the Abbasid empire and the Soviet empire.

Here's a video discussion on the above subjects:

APC and talks with Taliban; Karachi operation; Syria from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Putin Challenges US Exceptionalism 

Divide and Conquer Pakistani Taliban

Gangs of Karachi

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 

Syrian Situation; Taliban Talks; Zardari's Exit

Friday, September 13, 2013

Putin Challenges American Exceptionalism

"My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different,but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal." Russian President Vladimir Putin's Op Ed in New York Times

Clearly, Mr. Putin does not like the fact that the United States considers itself exceptional. But what does "exceptional" mean?

To me,  "exceptional" is just another word for "special". I don't know of any nation that doesn't think they are special in some way and they use it to whip up their own brand of nationalism.

In the case of  United States, however, there are genuine reasons based on rational data and facts that establish US as "special" in multiple dimensions.  The US is a multi-dimensional hyper-power the likes of which the world has not seen.

The current world order and its institutional framework were architected by post-WW II American leaders. Establishment of international institutions like the United Nations and its multiple agencies, the World Bank, IMF, GATT and WTO was spearheaded by Americans.

Not only is the US the biggest military power many times larger than number two Russia, the US dollar is the world's unchallenged currency which is used for the bulk of international trade and as reserve currency by central banks around the globe. The US is the world's largest economy and the biggest trading partner of most of the countries of the world. The US also boasts the world's top entrepreneurs, most innovative companies and bulk of the top universities with the lion's share of Nobel prizes. The US leadership in wide range of technologies and industries is unquestionable. And the US lead is growing, not shrinking with new developments.

In spite of its great technological advances, the US still retains many vestiges of its Wild West.  With its powerful gun-rights advocates in many western,  mid-western and southern states, the US is still a gun-slinging frontier society in many ways which makes it jealously guard its exceptional status in the world.

The US seeks to avoid the fate of other great empires of the past which were brought down by barbarians and desert tribesmen over the centuries.

Here's a excerpt of a piece by NY Times Nobel Laureate economist-columnist on Ibn Khaldun's lessons for established powers: "Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians...I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert".

US intelligence analyst and author George Friedman in his book "The Next 100 Years" describes the United States as "young and barbaric" with the barbarian instincts to fight off most threats, including those from the rag-tag bands of  tribesmen and barbarians who have toppled great empires of the past like the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Persian empires, the Umayyid empire, the Abbasid empire and the Soviet empire.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is America Young and Barbaric? 

US Dollar as International Trade and Reserve Currency

Godfather Metaphor for Uncle Sam

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

US Drones and Cyber Warfare

US Dominates List of World's Top Universities

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pakistan Happiness Score Down But Still Tops Neighbors

Pakistan ranks 81 with a score of 5.292 on a list 156 countries in World Happiness Report 2013 released by UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The average score for all of the countries surveyed is 5.1 out of 10.

On a scale of 0 to 10, people in 156 countries, surveyed by Gallup over the period 2010-12, reveal a population-weighted average score of 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries. These six factors include: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

Pakistan's score of 5.292 (ranked 81) puts it slightly above average (5.1).  It is higher than China's 4.978 (ranked 93), Bangladesh's 4.804 (ranked 108) and India's 4.772 (ranked 111). Denmark tops the list with a score of 7.693 while Togo is at the bottom with a score of 2.936. The top 10 countries ranked for happiness include Denmark (#1), Norway (#2), Switzerland (#3), Netherlands (#4), Sweden (#5), Canada (#6), Finland (#7), Austria (#8), Iceland (#9) and Australia (#10). UAE is ranked #14, USA #17 and UK #22.

Though Pakistan's happiness score (5.292) is down by 0.214 since the end of Musharraf years in 2008, it has not been affected as much as some of the other strife-torn nations like Syria ranking near the bottom at 148 (3.892), along with other countries including Iraq (105), Iran (115) and Afghanistan (143). India (111) lost 0.382 points off its happiness score during this period.

Among people with improved quality of life are those in Latin America and the Caribbean, while decrease in levels of happiness is seen in Western Europe, the Middle East and North African countries affected by the financial crisis and political and social instability. Other major countries surveyed include Brazil (24), France (No. 25), Germany (No. 26), Japan (No. 43), Italy (No. 45) and Russia (No. 68).

The measured decrease of 0.214 in Pakistan's happiness score since 2008 appears to be the result of economic stagnation, energy shortages, growing corruption and declining sense of security. It has already led to a massive defeat of the ruling Pakistan People's Party in the elections held in May of this year. Would the decrease of 0.382 in India's happiness score since 2008 lead to the ouster of India's ruling Congress party in next year's elections? Let's wait and see.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Elections 2013 Results

Pakistan's Rural Economy

Political Patronage Trumps Public Policy in Pakistan

Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman Defends Pakistan's Higher Education Reforms

Twelve Years Since Musharraf's Coup

Musharraf's Legacy

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Agriculture, Textiles Employ Most Indians and Pakistanis

New Index Finds Indians Poorer Than Africans, Pakistanis

Pakistan's Exports and Remittances Rise to New Highs

Sugar Crisis in Pakistan

Agricultural Growth in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Quaide-Azam's Death Anniversary: Is Two Nation Theory Dead?

Some argue that the Two Nation Theory died with the 1971 partition of Pakistan that led to the separation of East Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Others say that the TNT (Two Nation Theory) was dead the day Pakistan's founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah passed away on Sept 11, 1948.

As Pakistanis observe the 65th anniversary of the Quaid-e-Azam's passing, let's examine the state of the Two Nation Theory which gave birth to the Pakistan movement on March 23, 1940.

The key question that needs to be answered regarding the events of 1971 is as follows: Did the Awami League in East Pakistan fight to create their own country later named Bangladesh? Or did they shed their blood to re-unify the eastern wing of Pakistan with India?

These questions are answered by French historian Christophe Jaffrelot in his book "A History of Pakistan and its origins".

Jaffrelot  cites British-Pakistani history Prof Samuel Martin Burke rejecting the notion that the Two-Nation Theory died in 1971 with Pakistan's split into Pakistan and Bangladesh. Burke says that the two-nation theory was even more strongly asserted in that the Awami League rebels had struggled for their own country, Bangladesh, and not to join India. In so doing, they had put into practice the theory behind the original resolution to form Pakistan, which envisaged two Muslim states at the two extremities of the subcontinent.

Here's an excerpt from the Pakistan Resolution passed in Lahore in March 1940:

"Resolved that it is the considered view of this Session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designated on the following basic principle, viz. that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute "Independent States" in which the Constituent Units shall be autonomous and sovereign"

Clearly, the Pakistan Resolution called for "Independent States" of Muslim majority areas in the "North Western and Eastern Zones of India" in which the "Constituent Units shall be autonomous and sovereign".

What happened in 1971 with the creation of Bangladesh essentially put into practice the theory behind the original resolution to form Pakistan, which envisaged two Muslim states at the two extremities of the subcontinent.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Jaswant Lauds Jinnah

Are Muslims Better Off in Jinnah's Pakistan?

Comparing Pakistan and Bangladesh

Is This a 1971 moment in Pakistan's History?

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Global Firepower

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

India Wins Freedom by Maulana Azad

Ayesha Jalal Taking On Pakistan's Hero

The Poor Neighbor by William Dalrymple

Iqbal and Jinnah

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lal Masjid Case Against Musharraf; Karachi "Targeted" Ops; Syria

Vindictive Pakistani judges' relentless pursuit of Musharraf continues with an FIR ordered against the former president for Lal Masjid operation conducted in 2007.

Nawaz Sharif government is working with Sindh provincial administration to carry out "targeted" operations by rangers and police against criminal gangs extorting money from businesses and killing innocent citizens of Karachi.

United States is pushing for military action against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad for alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces.

FIR Against Musharraf:

Islamabad High Court Judge Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi ordered a local police official in the nation's capital  to register a criminal case against President Musharraf for Lal Masjid operation back in 2007. The judge threatened  to hold the reluctant police officer in contempt unless he registered an FIR against the former president, forcing the poor officer to do so against his considered and lawful judgement.

Lal Masjid Vigilantes in Islamabad

The forced registration of an FIR against a former president in Lal Masjid case sends a very alarming message to the current and future government executives including presidents and prime ministers of Pakistan: "Don't mess with anyone who takes up arms to challenge state's writ in the name of Islam and the Shariah Law. If you do, you will be dragged into courts headed by right-wing Islamist judges who sympathize with the Shariah vigilantes".

Most of the Islamabad judges are from the Rawalpindi Bar Association which has the strongest right-wing Islamist connections in the country. Its members treated Punjab Gov Salman Taseer's killer Mumtaz Qadri  as a hero and showered him with rose petals.  Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court  was a Jamaat-e-Islami candidate in 2002 elections. He has represented  former Lal Masjid Imam Maulana Abul Aziz who led Lal Masjid vigilantes in defying the writ of the state to enforce his version of the Shariah law in the hear of Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

Masked Armed Terrorists at Lal Masjid

In April this year, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered former President Pervez Musharraf's arrest by revoking bail that was properly granted earlier by Justice Mushir Alam, a Sindh High Court judge in Karachi.
Although Judge Siddiqui has recused himself from Lal Masjid case, the fact is that other judges of the Islamabad High Court are activists with similar views as right-wing ideologues.  Qureshi's biography on Islamabad High Court website describes him as "having dynasty of well esteemed Siddiqui Qureshi clan migrated to Sindh with Ghazi Muhammad Bin Qasim."  The appointments of both judges were confirmed by former President Zardari under the threat of contempt of court by Pakistan Supreme Court judges.

Karachi Operation:

Karachi is often called the urban frontier. It is also a goose that lays golden eggs; its businesses are forced to part with an estimated Rs. 830 million every day in extortion money (bhatta) to criminal gangs and terrorists of various kinds operating in the megacity of 20 million residents. The problem is that, in spite of such vast amounts of protection money, the businessmen are feeling more unsafe than ever; they are being kidnapped, tortured and killed by multiplicity of ever-greedier extortionists with growing appetite for money and violence. Could this excessive greed kill the goose that lays golden eggs?

Nawaz Sharif government is in the midst of yet another law-enforcement operation by police and rangers against criminal gangs in Karachi. It has the same problem as the myriad operations before it; Most criminals and gangsters are affiliated with Karachi's powerful politicians who spring them lose after they are arrested by rangers and handed over to the police.

Historical Chart of Karachi Killings

Karachi's past history tells us that violence goes down significantly when it is run by an elected local government. In recent history, the quietest years have been the years when an MQM-led duly elected local government has been put in charge of running Karachi. Nawaz Sharif should try this as well: Ensure local elections and allow an empowered local government with police powers to tackle its crime problems. If it fails, then Martial Law under governor's rule should be considered  to clean up Karachi.

Syrian War:

Syrian Child Refugee
There have been recent headlines  triggered by the  threat of the Obama administration to punish Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians near Damascus. This needs to be seen in the context of a major humanitarian disaster that started to unfold when, as part of the Arab Spring elsewhere in the Middle East, ordinary Syrians rose up against the Assad dynasty's dictatorial rule over a period of 43 years. Taking a page from his father's playbook in Hama where thousands were killed by Hafez Al-Assad for defying him, Bashar responded  with brute force to suppress a peaceful protest movement against his repressive rule.  This time, the Hama formula backfired on Assad as the Opposition took up arms with foreign help to fight the regime. It's now a major humanitarian crisis in which over 100,000 Syrians have been killed so far in a population of only about 22 million, several hundred thousand have been injured and disabled and millions have been uprooted from their homes and forced to live in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

Will the US strikes against Assad help resolve the Syrian humanitarian crisis? The answer is NO.

Viewpoint from Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses with Riaz Haq, Sabahat Ashraf, and Ali Hasan Cemendtaur new cases against Pervez Musharraf; the upcoming Karachi operation to arrest terrorists and criminal elements; and what benefit would a US attack on Syria have.

This show was recorded at 1 pm PST on Thursday, September 5, 2013.

پرویز مشرف پہ داءر نءے مقدمات، کراچی میں بھتہ خوروں، ٹارگٹ کلرز اور دہشت گردوں کے خلاف آپریشن کی تیاری، شام پہ امریکہ کے حملے کی تیاری، فراز درویش، ریاض حق، صباحت اشرف، آءی فقیر، علی حسن سمندطور، ڈبلیو بی ٹی ٹی وی، ویو پواءنٹ فرام اوورسیز، امریکہ میں پاکستانی، سلیکن ویلی، سان فرانسسکو بے ایریا

New cases against Musharraf; Karachi operation; US ready to attack Syria from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is Musharraf's High Treason Trial Justified?

Pak Media Cheers Judges' Pursuit of Musharraf

Karachi's Gangster Politicians 

Karachi: World's Fastest Growing Megacity

MQM Worried By Karachi's Demographic Changes 

Karachi Tops World's Largest Cities 

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance 

Eleven Days in Karachi 

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Syria Crisis

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube